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The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

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The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake At 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906, the people of San Francisco were abruptly awaken to one of the world’s most expensive and impacting earthquakes of the 20th century. The magnitude of the earthquake is debatable, ranging from 7.7 to as high as 8.2. However, the most accepted Richter measurement is 7.9. This is debated because Charles Richtor developed his scale in 1935, after the killer quake. The main shock epicenter occurred offshore 3.2 km from the city, near Mussel Rock. It ruptured along the San Andreas Fault northward and southward for 476 km (296 miles). The quake was felt from Oregon to Los Angeles, inland as far as Nevada. Though the earthquake was impacting in itself, it lasted less than a minute and the most damage was done by the resulting fire that lasted 4 days. The earthquake bears inexhaustible remembrance as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States and has had lasting social, fiscal, and political impact. The death toll is uncertain, but modern calculations approximate about 3,000 deaths at a minimum. The death toll alone is a very debated topic, and has had a large impact by itself. Initially it was said that only 478 people had died. It is speculated that the official tally of 478 was employed by the city coroner, who added 100 to the 378 bodies that showed up at the morgue. Some uncertainty in the toll exists because government officials felt that reporting the true death toll would lower real estate prices and diminish efforts to rebuild the city. Also, hundreds of casualties in Chinatown were ignored and unrecorded. It is hard to accurately say how many died. Most of them occurred in San Francisco itself but others were reported in cities like Santa Rosa and San Jose. The death toll has been revisited many times, the most recent of which in 2005. Historians now say that...

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